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July 12, 2016 | 3 minute read

Study, poor hydration links to higher weight

You know water is good for you. And a lot of the healthiest foods, such as fruits and veggies, are loaded with water. It’s common dietary advice, but how much does this nutrient matter when it comes to losing and staying a healthy weight?

Today a new study reopens the water-weight discussion suggesting that not having enough water — from any form — increases the likelihood of being overweight.

The study was published today in the Annals of Family Medicine and it simply shows a correlation between being hydrated and a healthy weight, not that less watery intake causes weight gain. Yet it adds to the research on behaviors that could help people with weight control. For lower cancer risk, staying a healthy weight is one of the most important steps you can take.

fruit-in-watersPrevious research has gone back and forth on the importance of water intake when it comes to weight. Here’s a study showing it does help, and here’s a review with conflicting findings.

Generally, population studies have looked at reports of water intake.

Here, researchers used lab data from a nationally representative group of about 9,500 adults who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Back in  2009, NHANES added a test that looked at urine concentration, called urine osmolality. The higher the concentration of a person’s urine, the less water an individual had in their body. Researchers categorized those with a set value of urine concentration (800 milliosmole per kilogram of water) or more as “inadequately hydrated.”

After taking into account age, ethnicity and income, the study found that adults categorized as inadequately hydrated were 3 pounds heavier than their hydrated counterparts.

The odds of being obese were 1.59 times higher for those who were inadequately hydrated compared to those hydrated.

The study findings could be that overweight individuals may not be getting enough water in their beverages or foods. This study also only had one test of a person’s hydration level, which may not represent the norm.

But all in all, it’s hard to argue against water.

There’s still a lot of myths out there about water — think 8 glasses a day — yet drinking plenty of water and eating water-laden plant foods fits into a healthy dietary pattern. And there’s little debate when it comes to replacing sugars beverages with water: that works.

Don’t like plain water? You’re not alone. Here, a dietitian talks about how to spruce up your water in one of our most popular posts.

The study does not list any funding sources.

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